Preston: ‘In a sense, Ordinary Boys fans have had to endure so much’
- Credit: Archant
The Clapton-based singer tells Alex Bellotti about why the Ordinary Boys have got back to their youth for their eponymous new record.
The success of The Ordinary Boys has roughly correlated with the fortunes of the band’s lead singer, Preston. After enjoying moderate early recognition, the indie four-piece saw their record sales explode when the Clapton resident – full name Samuel Preston – appeared on the 2006 edition of Celebrity Big Brother, afterwards becoming engaged to fellow contestant Chantelle Houghton.
His surge in profile resulted in a number one download hit for The Ordinary Boys with their best-known song, Boys Will Be Boys. But then things went awry: Preston and Houghton’s marriage proved short-lived, the singer infamously stormed off a Never Mind The Buzzcocks episode, and the band’s third album failed to live up to its predecessors commercially.
“There are two things that frustrate me,” admits Preston. “It’s not like a thing that keeps me up at night, but there’s the fact that I’ve been a professional musician for over 10 years, had number ones and sold hundreds of thousands of records, but no one really knows that because I haven’t done it under my name. Yet everyone knows I walked off Never Mind The Buzzcocks.”
Since the Ordinary Boys split in 2008, Preston has – unknown to many – gone on to write hits for the likes of Olly Murs, Chloe Howl and Enrique Iglesias. Yet after a few years, the 33-year-old missed the company of his old band mates enough to prompt a series of reunion shows.
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Now, however, The Ordinary Boys are truly back with an eponymous fourth album, which, as their singer notes, signals a shift back to the ‘90s pop-punk influences of their youth.
“There’s something about getting to this age where you become really nostalgic, and there’s something so comforting about that,” says Preston. “I spent my whole 20s listening to weird avant-garde records, trying to really explore new music and stuff that was interesting. I thought about doing a solo record one time in 2009; I recorded this whole weird, dark, electronic record, but never released it. I got cold feet, thinking I couldn’t really pull it off.
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“This music you listen to growing up, it does shape you musically, and when we started writing the songs [for the new record], we just started doing three chord pop-punk tunes. It flowed so naturally and I think the record benefits from the fact that we weren’t trying to do anything specifically, we just did it.”
The Worthing-born songwriter explains how The Ordinary Boys, alongside new single Four Letter Word, has been released on their independent label, Treat Yourself records. It was, he says, a “self-indulgent” decision to ensure they could produce music on their own terms – even if it has occasionally resulted in stock being withheld because he’s forgotten to pay the bills.
With a flurry of shows to play before the end of the year, the group are certainly paying back the fans who have stuck with them through the split, and Preston says their reaction to the new record has made it all worthwhile.
“It’s funny, we had a review that came through this morning, some small paper that had reviewed all the releases of the week. It was a decent review, 7/10 or something so by no means a bad review. It said that Losing My Cool was one of the weakest tracks on the album, which I completely disagree with, but whatever.
“And it said, ‘But there’s still plenty to satisfy long-suffering fans’. I was like… they either didn’t quite mean that, or it’s just one of the most brilliant things ever in a review. There is a certain sense that our fan base has had to endure so much to be Ordinary Boys fans that it makes it even more worthwhile when it all pays off and they’re given something that they really like.”